When it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, not having the right tools when it comes to finding a good therapist and effective therapy can be a pain. Fortunately, online therapy is becoming more and more common and accessible to everyone. Not only can it be more effective for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but online therapy is often much more affordable than traditional therapy with insurance.
Read on to learn more about what Autism Spectrum Disorder is, why it needs specialized therapy, and how online therapy differs from traditional therapy.
What is Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a developmental disability that can cause a range of communication problems, as well as social and behavioral issues. While some people with autism may only exhibit a few symptoms and have minimal issues, some others have a much more difficult time. Because of this, autism is now considered to be a spectrum disorder, which includes other conditions that used to be considered as separate disabilities.
According to the CDC: “A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome.”
Because of this updated definition, it’s important to keep in mind that what was once called Asperger syndrome or “high-functioning autism” is now under the same umbrella as what is classically thought of as autism. That’s what makes ASD a spectrum disorder: The symptoms and severity of the disorder varies with every single person.
Autism Spectrum Disorder awareness has exploded over the past decade, with more people understanding what autism looks like and how it presents itself in both children and adults. It no longer carries the stigma it did in the 20th century, for example, and there are more and more options available for those with autism. Online therapy has especially been helpful for those with ASD.
The cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder is still unknown, though it is thought to mainly be genetic in nature. There is a movement by people with autism to show that ASD is not a disorder, in reality, but just a different way of thinking. Some even consider their autism to be a super power. Because it cannot be “cured” in the traditional sense, the way something like depression can be cured, therapy is used to help patients manage their symptoms, not to get rid of them. For example, a therapist can help a person with autism learn time management skills, communication skills, or even give referrals to other specialists like speech therapists and occupational therapists.
There are several options to help the various symptoms of ASD. For example, according to BetterHelp, “someone with ASD who cannot communicate well may require therapy to learn different ways to communicate. There may be auditory training, music therapy, physical therapy, and more.”
What are Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
The symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder can be categorized in three types: communication issues, social problems, and repetitive actions or behaviors.
The most frequent symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder are things like not making eye contact, difficulty reading and expressing emotions, trouble adapting to new routines or surprises, and becoming easily over stimulated by things like loud noises and big crowds.
Other symptoms could include having an obsessive special interest, not communicating at all with others, or having an aversion to certain food textures.
Of course, these do not encompass everything that someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder could experience, but are just some of the more common symptoms.
Why Do People With Autism Spectrum Disorder Need a Therapist?
In reality, everyone needs a therapist, but those with Autism Spectrum Disorder have an added challenge of finding a therapist who understands their condition and can provide effective treatment plans while taking into consideration their unique needs. One excellent way of finding this type of professional is through an online service like BetterHelp.
While Autism Spectrum Disorder awareness has become more and more common in the past decade, it is still a frequently misunderstood disorder and really does require a specialist’s touch to effectively handle a patient with autism. And it is not just for kids. While Autism Spectrum Disorder is often thought of as something children have, because of the increased awareness to the public, many adults are also getting diagnosed with autism. There is also a growing population of adults who have self-diagnosed themselves with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because official diagnosis and traditional treatment can be cost-prohibitive, online therapy is a great option for adults who think they may have autism.
It is important to note, though, that online therapists like the ones on BetterHelp generally cannot give official diagnoses to provide medication or for legal reasons. However, a BetterHelp therapist may be able to help with things like getting accommodations for school or work.
Why Online Therapy Works Well For People With Autism Spectrum Disorder.
There is no cure for autism (and many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder do not see it as a disease or disorder that needs to be “cured”), which means that treatment to help people with autism manage their disorder is lifelong. Fortunately, companies like BetterHelp offer online therapy for everyone. Online therapy is an excellent choice for anyone who may have a hard time having a one-on-one face-to-face conversation with another person for an extended period of time. This, as mentioned earlier, is something that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder struggle with.
One very important thing to note is the efficacy of online therapy. There have been studies done comparing both online therapy and traditional therapy, including a study that specifically looked at BetterHelp. The results show that online therapy is just as effective as traditional therapy. And, while generally any therapy is better than no therapy at all, attempting therapy with a counselor or therapist who doesn’t specialize in ASD can do more harm than good for autistic individuals.
How Does Online Therapy Work for Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Online therapy is a lot like traditional therapy, but also vastly different. With online therapy, you can choose your mode of communication. On BetterHelp, for example, you may choose to have video conversations, phone calls, direct messages, or live chat with a therapist. Because everyone is different and every day can be different, as well, patients can mix and match modes of communication to do what works best for them.
As mentioned, people with autism need to work with a therapist or counselor who is specialized in ASD. With online therapy, part of the process is filling out a detailed questionnaire about preferences for the type of therapy and type of therapist you wish to have. After filling out the questionnaire, you will likely be matched to the therapist who matches your profile best. Of course, if you and your matched therapist do not have the chemistry you would like, you may always change therapists.
Are Online Therapists Licensed?
Yes! Online therapists are licensed and credentialed by individual states, just like traditional therapists. In fact, many online therapists also have a traditional practice.
Not only are they licensed, but the therapists at BetterHelp specifically go through a rigorous month-long evaluation period that includes a background check, references, and completion of a case study that is then evaluated, as well.
How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?
It depends. For BetterHelp in particular, the cost is $60-$90 per week with unlimited sessions, and is billed monthly on a subscription basis, which can be canceled at any time. While this may seem like a lot, seeing a traditional therapist with or without insurance can be up to $200 per session, with multiple sessions per week.
Do Online Therapists Take Insurance?
For the most part, no. You will not be able to get reimbursed by your insurance provider for online therapy treatments. However, most people do see a significant difference in pricing that makes online therapy without insurance much more affordable than traditional therapy.
That being said, it is a good idea to check in with your insurance provider before assuming that online therapy is not covered at all. Because insurance plans vary so vastly, it is possible yours may cover all of your treatment, or at least a small portion of it.
Final Thoughts on Therapy for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder
As we’ve discussed this article, it’s absolutely crucial for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder to find therapists who not only specialize in autism, but also give them options to communicate in ways that make the most sense and work best for them. Traditional face-to-face therapy may work for some people with autism, but online therapy opens a whole new world for those who prefer to communicate online or via text messaging.
If you’re looking for help for yourself or your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a good place to start looking for an online therapist is BetterHelp. With BetterHelp, you’ll be matched with a licensed, vetted professional therapist who specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Posted on: 4/26/2021 Written by: Jennifer Hamilton, RN. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html